In a Nutshell: While the average American consumer’s credit score is on the rise, many still don’t understand what their overall credit profile looks like. Credit.com aims to change that by offering users their Experian credit score and a credit report card that highlights the main issues that affect a consumer’s credit score — both free. The platform also offers personalized action plans prepared by experts and resources to help consumers learn how credit impacts their entire financial lives. The website also takes data security and privacy seriously, with standards and practices that go beyond what the law requires. Credit.com earns our Editor’s Choice™ Award for providing resources to help consumers improve their financial standing.
Over the years, I’ve become the go-to person in my circle of friends for advice on buying a new car. I’ve made plenty of recommendations and even visited the dealership with some of them to help them get the best deal. So, when a friend called me up saying she was looking to buy a car, I stepped up.
My first question was, “What’s your credit score?” She said she thought it was around 650, and I explained that her score was an important factor in the type of loan she could qualify for. Her score could mean the difference between a subprime, double-digit APR and a prime rate at half that amount. She said she knew she could get a loan with her score, but had no idea it could mean she’d pay thousands of dollars more over the life of the loan.
That response reminded me how many people don’t understand the full picture of their credit. Some know they have a credit score, and the higher the better, but still lack a basic knowledge of what it all means. According to the Consumer Federation of America, only 41% of American consumers understand that their credit score measures the risk of their not paying back a loan.
Since 1995, Credit.com has been working to help consumers understand not only their credit scores but also the complete picture of their credit profiles. And the platform provides tools and resources designed to encourage users to take a more active role in managing their credit.
“Our goal is to provide consumers with an easy way to digest their credit profiles and understand where there’s an opportunity for improvement,” said David Lord, General Manager at Credit.com. “A lot of misinformation is out there, which leads to a misunderstanding of financial products. The difference between a 6% interest rate and a 30% interest rate over the life of a loan is enormous.”
The consumer credit website aims to improve the financial knowledge of anyone, regardless of where they fall on the credit spectrum. Consumers on the low end of that spectrum are a particular focus, and Lord said he believes they are an underserved sector of the financial industry.
“We’re interested in serving the consumers who have credit scores in the 500s and 600s and who want to move up the credit ecosystem. We want to help them improve their position,” he said.
For its commitment to providing resources that help consumers improve their financial standing, Credit.com earns our Editor’s Choice™ Award.
Offering Users a Free Credit Report Card and Personalized Action Plan
Users who sign up for a Credit.com account can also get a free copy of their Experian and Vantage credit scores. To help them better understand what those reports mean, the site offers a credit report card summary of the five key credit score factors. This exclusive report card breaks down the information found on a user’s credit report and provides a letter grade from A to F, so users can tell where they stand at a glance.
“Everybody has had a report card and knows what an A, B, C, D, and F means, and we try to provide that grade relative to their credit in an easy-to-understand format,” said Lord.
Credit.com assigns a letter grade to every area of a credit score, including payment history, account mix, debt usage, credit applications, and credit inquiries. Users can view their report card on a desktop or mobile device.
The site also illuminates the areas in which they can make improvements.
Credit.com also offers users a personalized action plan prepared by the company’s credit experts. The site tailors plans to each individual’s unique credit situation, not just their score. Steps to increase a credit score can include paying off high-interest credit cards first or always making payments on time.
Combined with the credit report card, the plan is designed to put consumers in charge of their credit profile and give them actionable advice on how to improve their situation.
Resources to Help Consumers Improve their Credit Standing
Credit.com was founded in 1995 as, essentially, an online repository for information on credit and credit scores. Along the way, the company has garnered recognition and many awards along the way, including top accolades from Business Insider, Fast Company, CNN Money, and more. Today, the Credit.com team is more focused on providing interactive financial resources and expert advice aimed directly at consumers.
“We want to get to a point where we’re educating consumers and people are coming to our site to get information and access to the credit they deserve,” said Lord. “We want to be a resource destination where people can come to find out how they can improve their scores, enable them to improve there scores — and end up paying less interest in the long run.”
The platform strives to build a trust-based relationship with its users. And, given the company’s longevity and name recognition, that seems like an achievable goal.
“We want to help people make good financial decisions, and we base our recommendations on what they share with us,” Lord said.
The tools and calculators Credit.com has developed in its effort to become a trusted consumer financial website include a Lifetime Cost of Debt calculator that shows how much interest you will pay over the life of a loan. The Credit Card Payoff Calculator tool helps consumers develop a smart plan to pay down credit card debt and answers the question”How Much House Can You Afford?”
Maintaining a Commitment to Privacy and Data Security
To win the trust and loyalty of consumers in today’s digital landscape, a company must show an unwavering commitment to privacy and data security. Personal financial information is among the most sensitive data any consumer can share with an outside source. Credit.com recognizes that to achieve its goals of being a comprehensive consumer referral website, it must put its users’ privacy first.
“Even though we don’t collect credit card information, we follow the same rigorous PCI standards as sites that collect that data,” Lord said. “We have an internal audit team and compliance team that keeps us compliant — so we take this seriously.”
A focus on customers is a common theme at Credit.com. From the company’s customer portal, where it monitors feedback and direct communication with customers, to the development of content for mobile-first users, the company takes a user-centric approach.
The evolution of Credit.com from an informational website in the mid-90s to an all-inclusive platform and mobile app that helps people make better financial decisions has been a long road. But Lord said the company isn’t done changing with the times and hinted at some new offerings coming in 2019.
“Keeping in line with our customer-first commitment, we’re planning to offer new products and services that our users have told us they want to see. And we’re excited about that,” Lord said.